DIY – How to Write a Really, Really Good Press Release
August 25, 2015
We are not PR experts – not by a long shot. But the truth is that we work with a lot of small, growing companies, which just can’t afford to hire a PR team (or even a PR admin). The result is that we’ve learned a few PR basics along the way. In fact, we think our press release writing skills are pretty darn good. No offense to our PR colleagues out there, because press releases are definitely a different kind of challenge. Yes, it has to be interesting and genuine, but a good press release requires following the structure and format of the journalists’ Holy Grail: who, where, what, when, why and how.
Here are a few tips if you’ve got to go it alone and DIY.
1. If you like it, then you should have put a label on it.
So hear this dear reader. The most important part of your press release is the headline. Most journalists are busy people with little time to spare. Believe us when we say that they get in boxes filled with press releases. Unless you’ve got a catchy/interesting/subject line, chances are that your press release will go straight to trash. So, what’s catchy/interesting?
First and foremost, it’s not a blog, so don’t try to be clever, and don’t bother with puns. Think about your key message and boil it down to no more than 15 words (yes, seriously). Include a couple of verbs or adjectives. Don’t be afraid of making a bold statement that’s a little controversial. The goal is to grab a journalist’s attention with that opening line. Next is writing the story itself.
2. Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang.
Let’s start with the basics. The opening line of your press release has got to tell the reader everything they need to know and this means the Holy Grail we mentioned above: who, where, what, when, why and how. Do your best to get all six of these details into the top couple of lines – and preferably the opening sentence if you can. Be concise. From there, the paragraphs that follow should work like an inverted pyramid – expanding on the bullet points you’ve touched upon in your first line with bigger (but non-essential) facts.
3. You Can Quote Me on That
After you’ve provided a couple hundred words (which is really just a couple of paragraphs) of in-depth copy, you must include at least two separate quotes from someone within the company. It’s a must. Really. This is a must. But make sure that your quotes don’t just repeat what you’ve already written in the body. This is where you can actually give some analysis and be as UN-objective as possible. And please, please, put a name on it. Use your company president, VP or other senior executive.